Paris-based mk2 films, which is in Venice with three films including Robert Guédiguian’s competition entry “Gloria Mundi,” is bowing sales on a raft of prestige documentaries, notably Jia Zhang-ke’s “So Close to My Land” and Jacques Loeuille’s “Birds of America.”
“So Close to My Land” marks the sixth collaboration between mk2 and the Chinese auteur, whose latest film, “Ash Is Purest White,” competed at Cannes in 2018. Jia also competed at Cannes with “Mountains May Depart” in 2015 and “A Touch of Sin,” which won the best screenplay award in 2013.
“So Close to My Land” is the third and final installment in a trilogy focusing on different artistic disciplines in China, after “Dong” (2006), about an acclaimed painter, and “Useless” (2007), about the fashion and clothing industry. Jia’s 2010 film “I Wish I Knew” played at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, while “Useless” and “Dong” opened at Venice and won prizes.
An 18-chapter symphony about Chinese society since the Communist takeover in 1949, “So Close to My Land” explores the spiritual history of the Chinese people as it follows prominent writers and scholars who gather in a village in Shanxi province. The documentary, which wrapped shooting in July and is now in post-production, is narrated by three prominent novelists: Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua and Liang Hong.
“So Close to My Land” reunites Jia with his longtime cinematographer, Yu Lik-Wai (“Mountains May Depart”). The movie is produced by Zhao Tao, along with Jia’s XStream Pictures, Huayi Brothers Media, Shanxi Film Group and Huaxia Film Group.
International sales on “So Close to My Land” are being handled by mk2, except in Chinese-speaking territories (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau).
Loeuille’s “Birds of America” unfolds along the banks of the Mississippi and traces now-extinct birds that were painted by renowned 19th century artist John James Audubon. The birds depicted in the paintings started disappearing with the dawn of the industrial era, and “so did the original American dream,” said mk2.
The feature documentary shines a light on the dramatic environmental changes that the country has known, mk2 said. “At the beginning of the 19th century, the discovery of the wide-open spaces of the United States and its incredible wildlife were key in the political development of the country.”
“Birds of America” was produced by Météores Films and is set for delivery in 2020. International sales are being handled by mk2 films, which will unveil the first images from “Birds of America” as well as images from Gero von Boehm’s previously announced “Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful” at Toronto.
The company’s documentary slate also includes Jean-Stéphane Bron’s “The Brain,” about artificial intelligence, and Mariana Otero’s “Looking for Gilles Caron.”
Along with “Gloria Mundi” in competition, mk2 is attending Venice with Manele Labidi’s “Arab Blues” and Bartabas’ “Time of the Untamed” at Venice Days.
The company also has seven films in Toronto, including Corneliu Porumboiu’s “The Whistlers” in the Masters section; Justine Triet’s “Sibyl” and Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” in special presentation; Mati Diop’s “Atlantics,” Koji Fukada’s “A Girl Missing” and “Arab Blues” in Contemporary World Cinema; and “Varda by Agnès,” by Agnès Varda, in special events.